Friday, August 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola Balls

We all struggle with finding nutritious and delicious little snacks. Most prepackaged snacks (such as granola bars) usually aren't MSPI-friendly. So we're left having to make our snacks. But we want them to be easy to make! No baking -- even better!

Here's a recipe I slightly adapted from Everyday Food that fits the bill. It makes a great snack for any time of day -- morning, noon or night. You can easily substitute sunflower butter for the peanut butter, if peanuts are an issue in your home.

Peanut Butter Granola Balls

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly peanut butter
2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine 
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a mixture of cranberries, blueberries and cherries.)

In a small saucepan over medium, heat honey, peanut butter and margarine. Stir until loosened and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cereal, oats and dried fruit.

Drop mixture by the tablespoon into mini paper cupcake or candy liners. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Tip: The mixture is pretty sticky to work with, but I found success using a small ice cream scoop to form the balls. Or you can just try pressing the mixture into a mini muffin pan that's been coated with cooking spray. (Coating your hands with cooking spray will make this option easier!) Whatever you do, don't skip the refrigeration! That's what keeps everything sticking together.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chocolate Pots de Creme with Whipped Coconut Milk

Oh, I've been a bad blogger. My updates have been rather infrequent lately, but can you blame me? Libby started kindergarten, and we're just now finally settling into our school-year groove. However, I have been cooking, and if ever there was a recipe worth waiting for, this is it!

My parents just recently moved back to my hometown of St. Joe, Mo. That's only two hours away from Omaha, so we can easily get away to see them over a weekend. Which is just what we did this past weekend, and while there, I used my mom's super-duper blender (mine is such a dud!) to make this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. (Thanks to my buddy Tysha for telling me about it!)

The trick to this awesome recipe is to make sure your coffee is screaming hot. Boiling hot! That's what melts the chocolate chips and cooks the eggs. So don't skimp on the heat! And make sure your eggs are room temperature. That's super important, too!

My entire family went crazy for this recipe. My kids were clamoring for it -- good thing I used decaf coffee!

Chocolate Pots de Creme

12 oz. package MSPI-friendly semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 whole eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
8 oz. strong hot coffee

First thing to do is to take your eggs out of the refrigerator ahead of time and let them come to room temperature before starting.

When eggs are at room temperature you can begin by placing the chocolate chips into a blender. Follow this with the eggs and the vanilla. Add a pinch of salt. Turn on the blender.

While it is blending, remove the circular disk from the blender lid and very slowly pour in 8 ounces of strong, VERY HOT coffee. It is essential that your coffee be extremely hot in order for the final product to be the right consistency and texture.

Blend for a minute or so until mixture is smooth and fairly free of visible bits of chocolate.

Pour the mixture into your serving glasses (I used seven half-cup glass bowls) leaving plenty of room to add a heap of whipped coconut milk later. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours so the mixture has a chance to set. Serve with a dollop of whipped coconut milk.

Whipped Coconut Milk

1 can whole fat coconut milk
powdered sugar

Store the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for a minimum of seven days (make sure it is upright). The longer the better, as this will better separate the fat from the liquid.

After it is refrigerated for a number of days, open the can with the can opener and you will find that all the fat will have risen to the top of the can, with the liquid at the bottom.
Scoop out all of the coconut fat and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Take a hand mixer and blend the coconut on high speed, working around it in a circular motion. After a few minutes it will start to get fluffy. Continue doing this until it becomes very light and creamy, adding in a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar to taste. 
Tip: Make sure you plan ahead and get that coconut milk in the fridge for several days. I didn't leave mine in the fridge long enough, and that's why mine is non-fluffy in the pic -- but it sure still tasted good!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Foolproof Playdough

Libby started kindergarten this week. (Yes, we start early here.) She's been loving it! However, my little man JD is struggling with her being gone. So I've been trying to do some extra fun things with him. Since I also have an infant who needs to be home napping, we're pretty limited on what we can do, but I've come up with a few things. One of them is make (and play with!) playdough. As you can see by the photo, JD loves it!

I realize this recipe is not food, but it's such a good one that I just had to share it. It came straight from Libby's kindergarten teacher, and it's fantastic. The playdough smells soooo good, but one taste and your child likely will never try to eat it again. Very salty! The Kool-Aid flavor you choose will determine the color.

Foolproof Playdough

1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
1 pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix
1-1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and water. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon, mixing well. When cool, mix with your hands until everything is incorporated and smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep the playdough fresh.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sloppy Joes

Do you have any go-to meals that you can make when you haven't been smart about planning ahead? Sloppy Joes are definitely one of those meals for me. In a pinch, I'll use Manwich, which is MSPI-friendly, but homemade Sloppy Joes definitely taste better than the canned sauce.

I adapted this recipe from My Favorites. I cut the recipe in half and substituted plain tomato sauce for the tomato soup. (By the way, canned tomato soup is usually MSPI-friendly, I just prefer using tomato sauce.)

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
1-1/2 tsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
MSPI-friendly hamburger buns

Place ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until evenly browned, stirring to crumble. Add the celery, cover the pan, and cook until tender and transparent, about 5 minutes. Drain off any grease.

Stir in the onions, tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce into the beef mixture. Season with salt and garlic powder. Heat to a simmer over low heat, and cook until thoroughly heated and onions are tender, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Spoon the hot beef mixture onto buns and serve.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Like" me, please!

Everyone's on Facebook nowadays, so is MSPI Mama! I've set up a fan page as a way for all of you to connect, discuss and support each other. I don't have all the answers, so make sure you head over to the Discussions page and start talking. MSPI can be lonely and frustrating when no one around you has been through it, so open up and share! Feel free to post questions and recipes while you're there. I'll occasionally post thoughts and ideas to get you talking, but I promise I won't jam up your feeds either! So "like" me, please!